Sasha Alexander: Conflict is Important


Rizzoli & Isles ended its second season with a cliffhanger of epic proportions after Jane (played by Angie Harmon) killed Maura's (played by Sasha Alexander) estranged father, Paddy -- who also happened to be an Irish mob enforcer.

As a result of that, Rizzoli & Isles looks like a much different show when it returns tonight as the best friends find themselves equally estranged. But according to Sasha Alexander, it doesn't take long for Rizzoli to get back in Isles' good graces -- or her bed!

ETOnline: Last season ended with Rizzoli shooting Isles' estranged father -- how's their relationship when we pick up tonight?
Sasha Alexander: It affects their friendship big time. It's almost uncomfortable to watch these women not getting along. But the truth is that conflict is important. We don't make it back together right away, it takes a few episodes for them to make their way back to one another, but when we get there, they've earned it and it makes their relationship stronger.

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ETOnline: Will there be repercussions -- either in the department or the mob -- for Rizzoli?
Alexander: Not at first and you'll see why in tonight's episode -- but that doesn't mean there won't be down the road. Jane is being investigated because her bosses find out she not only knew that Paddy was related to Isles but also his whereabouts, which makes her a suspect. There's a lot happening in that mystery and I love that storyline, it's turned out in such a cool way.

ETOnline: Looking at season three, what are you excited for fans to see?
Alexander: The writing is stronger than ever, there are a lot of fun storylines and all the characters have their overlapping personal stories. Plus, my character is now trying to find her biological mother and also gets a new love interest -- but he might not be a good guy. It's an interesting path. Then you've got Jane dealing with her dad coming back, and he has a new lady. Lots of family drama. On top of that, we have fascinating crimes that have put them in interesting positions this year. There's a lot of moments where you hit that stride and excitement of the storylines and I feel like we are in that moment.

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ETOnline: One of the things people talk about the most regarding Rizzoli & Isles is the relationship between the two women -- Is it friendship? Is it love? What do you make of that?
Alexander: Art is subjective. We all have the right to watch it and think what we want. It's up to you to decide if we have chemistry in a way that is sexually enticing. If you look at a relationship that has any layers for some reason, in our society, that immediately relates to sexuality. Why? You can't be friends with someone in this way without thinking there's sexual chemistry? Me and Angie have a great relationship, my husband says we look hot together so I get it. I think the important thing is that people relate to it. At the end of the day, if someone can relate to it individually than great.

ETOnline: It's almost one of those things where the assumption says more about the person than the show, you know?
Alexander: I agree with you. When the show launched, that was the last thing we ever expected. The great thing is our gay and lesbian fanbase is huge and we love them. They are a big portion of our audience but then we get fan mail from 15-year-olds saying how much they love the show and are inspired by seeing women who can pursue a field that is more male dominated.

ETOnline: That does seem to be the prevailing message -- these are two women dominating worlds that are, historically, male-driven. That's got to be fun to play into?
Alexander: It's the best. We're shooting a scene today where we are moving a mattress and can't get it through the door. So we start hanging on it and by the end, it's just like that scene in the pilot where we're hanging on the bed. Angie and I were teasing, asking if we should wear panties and a bra and have a pillow fight! [laughs] Whenever we have that scene why can't we take it to that point! I love those moments.

ETOnline: Sounds like you're ready for the episode where Rizzoli & Isles go undercover as House Mothers at a Sorority!
Alexander: Oh, that would be so funny. Actually, this season, there's an episode where we prepare to go undercover as call girls ... but it doesn't end up happening. It's very Lucy and Ethel. I can't wait for our fans to see that!

Rizzoli & Isles premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on TNT.